The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
As we approach June, I apologize in advance to those who don't follow "The Beautiful Game", but I may become slightly obsessed with soccer. That's because the World Cup in Germany is almost upon us. Here we see the Saudi team, not a bad bunch of lads really, thankfully most are clean-shaven; not only does that lower their wind-resistance, but a large and sweaty beard is the most disgusting thing on God's earth.
For our team, the World Cup is always a triumph of hope over realism. Racially we're just not big enough or fast enough or physical enough to cope with huge Europeans and even huger South Americans. The one thing we do have is stamina but that just gets used up in chasing after people who can run past us. Still, we can always hope. In our group, we stand a chance of beating Morocco, but if we can also do well against Ukraine (!) and Spain (!!!) then we might even get thru to the next round. Sadly, the Israel team did not qualify, because that would have made an interesting match, although there was a rumor that we would drop out rather than recognize and play "Occupied Palestine"! Such silliness. As it is, the overwhelming majority of the teams are "Christian teams", although there's an outside chance we could meet Iran, which would also be interesting. (Forget all the Saud family rhetoric about solidarity with our fellow Muslim brothers over there, there's a real and palpable hatred of those non-Arab Shiites over there. Silly again.)
The team are going to be staying in a small town in Germany known as Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt. I was very concerned about their welfare there, because Saudi males, especially the single ones, have an extremely bad reputation when abroad, and can really go off the rails. It's the problem of going from complete repression to complete liberation in one plane journey. Ask any resident of Bahrain or Dubai what they're like, and it's a story of men making the intimate acqaintance of Jack Daniel and Johnny Walker and young ladies called Olga or Natasha, although they're not above propositioning any passing Western woman on the assumption that they are ready, willing, and able.
So how will they be looked after, when they are abroad in Germany? Will they be suitably chaperoned and allowed to focus entirely on the game? Well, I was glad to learn that full arrangements are being made
for their moral welfare.Yet the luxurious Hotel Dolce Bad Nauheim is doing all it can to shield the Saudi Arabia team from all those western ways when they take up 59 of its 159 rooms on May 27 for the finals. The Saudis play Spain, Ukraine and Tunisia in the opening group stage."We do have a photo exhibition in the pool area which shows a lot of skin and it goes without saying that it will be removed by then," Michel Prokop, the hotel's general manager, told Reuters."
Of course it goes without saying. Although not specific as to whether male or female skin is involved, skin in general is a problem; it can cause daydreaming about tender caresses, which is an extreme distraction when trying to go for a hard bruising tackle."There are 20 tasteful portrait photos, but out of courtesy there will be no skin and no breasts," he added.
Obviously I don't need to elaborate on the breast problem. Breasts come with a lot of skin.There are also five art nouveau paintings hanging in a theatre in the park that belongs to the hotel. The paintings by Wilhelm Kleukens feature naked boys wearing wings - and will come down.
I myself have a problem with naked boys with wings. Not that sort of problem, you understand. But these Christian cherubim, they're just aerodynamically ridiculous. Little fat toddlers with bird wings. To stay up in the air, they'd need to flap their wings as rapidly as a Humming Bird, which would scatter debris and dust all over the place, it would be like a helicopter scene from "Apocalypse Now". Anyway, I don't want our team looking at little boys' skin, it's just not healthy."We're following some basic 'do's and don'ts'. The whole staff is taking cross cultural training sessions to make them aware of the differences of Germany and Saudi Arabia." .... all 123 hotel staff members have been taking eight-hour courses in sensitivity training....
....which is vital, because Saudi men are just so
sensitive. But eight hours isn't really long enough to cover the all differences. I've been blogging for two years, off and on, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface. But as long as they cover the vital stuff...."Among the things they're learning is about dress codes, that skirts should not be too short," he said, ...."To avoid all problems, all women staffers are going to wear trousers instead of dresses."
...in other words, cover all the skin, that's the main priority. But we need also to think about their reading matter....With the help of the local Islamic community, the hotel will set up a separate prayer room and will also remove bibles from Saudi rooms.
This is not a religious issue, you understand, nor even a skin issue, although there is a fair amount of skin in the bible, and those Israelites were obsessed with foreskin. But no, it's a morale issue. We don't want them reading passages like this from Deuteronomy 32:35, especially if up against one of Jehovah's favorite teams, on a wet pitch...Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; because the day of their calamity is at hand, their doom comes swiftly.
....it would be too bad for morale. Just like this quote, not from the bible, but from Catholic Brazil....Whenever the ball flew toward our goal and a score seemed inevitable, Jesus reached his foot out and cleared the ball.(Author unknown, from an article in Rio de Janeiro's Jornal dos Sports)
So no skin, either on the hotel staff or in paintings, and no demotivating bibles. What else should we worry about?"All the alcohol will be removed from the mini bars and replaced with soft drinks," he added.
Of course, nearly missed that one. And those bacon-flavored chips (crisps), I hope. But I'm still worried that there are other potential distractions."We will leave the Pay-TV on in their rooms but the porn movie channels will of course be turned off"
Oh dear! I missed that one as well. We've done skin, but I forgot the skin-flicks! Improbably-endowed men meeting improbably-endowed women, improbable amounts of skin to see. Letting them see that could channel their energies in entirely the wrong direction.
But what will they watch instead?"They will be able to watch 35 Arabic language TV channels in their rooms so they can see all the (World Cup) games in their own language."
So that's good. When they are not on the training ground, or in the stadium, we'll keep them nice and cocooned, away from all distractions, back in their hotel. It'll be a little Saudi Arabia in the middle of Germany.
When I was younger I always wanted to play international soccer for Saudi Arabia. It's the lure of the glamorous lifestyle.
And the A's are off to spend Easter in a hotel, not that we celebrate idolatrous festivals of course, it's just that there are some good offers out there. Complete with bible and mini-bar and a parental block on the TV. Back the middle of next week. If it applies to you, have a joyous Easter!